Last week Emma urged us to make our lunches ahead — having a big bowl of something you can easily take to work is one of the best ways to make sure you eat a homemade lunch instead of going out every day. Here's one more great make-ahead lunch: A massive green salad with a whole collection of textures going on — creamy goat cheese, crunchy almonds and cabbage, pulled chicken, soft chickpeas and kidney beans, and just a light touch of dressing so the salad doesn't get soggy in the fridge.
This salad, like other main dish salads, is a flexible thing. Don't like almonds? No problem; use walnuts instead. Don't like goat cheese? Use blue cheese. Etcetera, etcetera. Adapt as you see fit. I have to give credit where credit is due, too; this is a total hack off a local restaurant's main dish salad. I love it and could eat it every day. This one doesn't quite hit that perfection, but I am determined to continue the effort.
Also, take note of how strong the flavors can be in big salads like this one. Who says salads have to be light and insubstantial? If you use the smoked cheese that I wrote about last week, plus smoked almonds and some pulled roasted chicken, then this is a very robust and filling meal. The dates add just a note of sweetness, unexpected and delicious, and the beans fill it out too.
Big Green Salad with Dates, Chicken, Smoked Almonds, Goat Cheese, and Dates
1 week of lunches for 2 people
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded 1 head red-leaf lettuce, shredded 1 small head red cabbage, shredded very fine 1 small endive, chopped OR 1 fennel bulb, finely shaved 6 shallots OR 1/2 red onion, finely chopped 1 cup dried dates, pitted and chopped in quarters 1 cup smoked salted almonds, roughly chopped 1 12-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and well drained 1 12-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and well drained 4 ounces goat cheese or smoked goat cheese, crumbled Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Dressing: 3 tablespoons light vinegar, like rice vinegar or Champagne vinegar 1/2 cup light oil, like very light olive or safflower oil
Avocado Cooked chicken meat, pulled off the bone
Mix the greens and cabbage in a large bowl. Toss with the finely chopped shallots or red onion, dates, almonds, and legumes. Toss with the goat cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Whisk the vinegar and oil together until emulsified, then pour over the the salad mix and toss.
Serve with pulled chicken, if desired, and avocado chunks.